(ESPAÑOL) 18 of Texas’s counties signed the 287(g) agreement and joined a national league of counties whose local police force cooperates with immigration enforcement.
The deal signed at a sheriffs’ meeting in suburban Dallas comes as both the administration of U.S. Republican President Donald Trump, and Texas, the most populous Republican-controlled state, seek to crack down on “sanctuary cities,” places that shield immigrants who are in the country illegally.
The 287(g) agreement seeks to train local agents in the sheriff’s offices to check if the people they have in custody may be in violation of U.S. immigration law.
The program has been on the books since 1996 and allows the Department of Homeland Security to enter into formal written agreements with state and local police departments for officers to perform some of the functions of federal immigration enforcement officials.
“There’s no doubt that arresting removable aliens in a jail is safer for the officers, safer for the community and even safer for the alien himself,” Acting ICE Director Tom Homan told a news conference.
A.J. Louderback, sheriff of Jackson County, told the news conference that his county southwest of Houston joined the program to control criminality.
The sheriff of Harris County, the most populous county in the state and home to Houston, dropped out of the program earlier this year, saying it cost his office too much in terms of manpower and money.
The new agreement in Texas is for jails, but a task force model of the program has been used to allow police on patrol to check on people’s immigration status. Civil rights groups contend the method promotes illegal racial profiling.
With the addition of the 18 programs in Texas, ICE now has 60 active 287(g) agreements, nearly double the number of programs that were active in 2016.